Dushenko K. V.

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  • 3, 2023

    • Prison of Peoples: Birth of Metaphor

      The article discusses the emergence of the image of the prison of peoples in the European culture. Most often, this image is traced back to the book by Astolf de Custine “Russia in 1839”. However, de Custine, in essence, talks only about one enslaved people in the Russian Empire, namely the Polish. The idea about the prison of peoples took root only after the “non-historical” peoples of the Central and Eastern Europe entered the political scene. The image of Russia as a prison of peoples dates back to the Polish and even more so to the Ukrainian literature and journalism. In the Ukrainian press, referring to Russia as a prison of peoples becomes common practice in the 1900s. Mikhail Grushevsky in his article “Unity or disintegration?” presents this metaphor in its most extensive form. The image of the prison of peoples played an important role in the program documents of the Austrophile Ukrainian organizations of the First World War era. At the same time, Ukrainian leaders did not forget about Polish nationalism, which “would like to build a new „prison of peoples“” in a revived Poland. In the Polish press in 1900— 1917 the prison of peoples was mentioned less frequently, and not in program documents. Lenin most probably borrowed the formula “prison of peoples” from the Ukrainian or Polish press. From Lenin’s journalism it moved into the Soviet political language. Until the First World War, Russia was referred to almost exclusively as the prison of peoples; then the metaphor began to be applied to other countries, primarily to Austria-Hungary.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-110-3-134-148

      Pages: 134-148